A Sunburnt Country
This week we drove to Gunnedah, about two hours north west of our farm.
We passed sweeping plains stretching to the horizon with dry dams and puffs of cotton caught on the verges. Trucks hauling enormous bales of cotton groaned up the highway.
Sadly we have come for the funeral of a wonderful man who loved this harsh land and appreciated its beauty too.
Gunnedah is a lively country town and we stop first at the main park and rest stop. The public loos are a wonder! Each cubicle has the name of an Australian poet on the door, and inside four lines of a poem are inscribed. In the background is an audio of excerpts from some of the poems.
The funeral service has Australian symbols that encapsulate this man we are remembering. All the family place a branch of eucalyptus leaves on his grave and all friends are invited to take home tube stock of an Australian tree.
The central symbol is read by his wife, Joan.
She reads Dorothea Mackellar’s poem My Country, with such grace and love.
I feel quite an affinity with Dorothea as she is said to be so delighted after a drought had broken, that she danced barefoot in the rain. She was totally impressed by the sight of a mist of green grass appearing across the paddocks. I know how she felt.
Gunnedah has adopted this poet as their own, though she is not buried there. The town has a Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society and a memorial to her as well.
She is buried in Sydney at Waverley cemetery and Libby Hathorn and The Society of Women Writers, have been responsible for preserving and making her resting place an apt memorial.
We drive home. hoping this fine man is also at peace amongst the tall trees.